November 7, 2013
Apple has joined Google and Microsoft to fight the United States government over the ongoing surveillance scandal. In a new brief, Cupertino contends that the FBI “irrationally prohibits” its right to publish information about how many national security requests it receives, according to Gigaom. The company is not challenging the government’s right to impose secrecy over specific investigations. Instead, it wants to be able to alert users about how many requests it receives. As it stands, Apple can only disclose “broad bands of numbers,” that include “ordinary police requests.” In Apple’s opinion, the current gag rules violates constitutional free speech rights. Cupertino notes:
From Apple’s perspective, as well as the perspective of its customers and the public as a whole, this limited disclosure does not contribute effectively to the debate over the Government’s national security systems and and (as discussed infra) is unnecessary to protect national security .. a deliberate attempt to reduce public knowledge as to the activities of the Government.Apple also took issue over the government's assertion that providing the number of surveillance requests would somehow "tip bad guys" about what platforms the government is watching. On this, the company says "It simply is not a secret that the user accounts of some of the largest electronic communications service providers in the world can be and are subject to FISA surveillance." LinkedIn and Yahoo are also part of the legal challenge. Earlier this year, Apple posted an open letter that clarified its practices of customer data sharing with the U.S. government, U.S. law enforcement, and the National Security Agency’s secret “PRISM” program. In September, the company reiterated its position. Apple’s entire filing is located here: See also: Anonymous: Apple's Touch ID Is Deliberately Insecure, Tech Companies Want Greater Transparency After NSA Fiasco, and Apple, Tim Cook And Other Big Tech Companies Sued Over PRISM.